Sat | Dec 4, 2021

Alfred Dawes | Let Reid return to JC and sound horn of Gondor

Published:Sunday | November 21, 2021 | 12:13 AM

Picture it. A bright Monday morning. Ruel Reid drives down Old Hope Road to resume his position as principal of Jamaica College (JC). As he turns into the gates, the placard-bearing mob gets louder. Distasteful, mixed with clever signs express the...

Picture it. A bright Monday morning. Ruel Reid drives down Old Hope Road to resume his position as principal of Jamaica College (JC). As he turns into the gates, the placard-bearing mob gets louder. Distasteful, mixed with clever signs express the disgust of the protesters at his presence at the noble institution. He notes the steely looks of determination in their faces. He knows that this will be his new norm. At devotions, as he tries to get the boys to quiet down, he is greeted with boos that get louder and louder as he gesticulates, his voice drowned out by the cacophony of dissent. He swears he hears booing coming from the teachers as well, but he’ll deal with them later.

At the staff meeting he calls to discuss his determination to put the allegations behind him and chart the way forward, only the janitor and the newest teacher are present. He is advised that there is another meeting going on to discuss an important matter. Clearly there is a coup in the staffroom. As he protests, the janitor hisses her teeth and walks out. “Tink seh a CMU dis”, she mumbles under her breath. Reid has to remain huddled in his office during the days as the staff no longer mask their enthusiasm in joining the boys in booing him whenever he is sighted.

He even noticed that his attempts to leave campus before the end of day were neutralised by all classes suspiciously ending earlier, just in time to grant him an honour guard as he drives out. And why won’t the bloody security guards open the gates faster in the mornings? It was as if they were in on it why they sit and stare blanky while his car is surrounded every morning.

Reid knows there is only one end game to all this. To force him to resign. To give up his cushy salary needed for mounting legal bills. He had gamed the system long enough. Nobody wanted him to return. The school was moving on better than an ex with a trust fund boyfriend. Discipline at the school had improved. Academically, they had surged. JC was no longer only in the news because of donations, sports and buildings. He was persona non grata. Even his family, seeing the mental toll this was taking on him facing ridicule every day, was begging him to resign.


In the end, he had no choice. He submitted his resignation effective immediately. He had lost his game of what he thought was checkers. There would be no more leave extensions. No payout. It was over. Checkmate. The multinational scorn for him was even more apparent when he saw the praises heaped on the JC student body and family for accomplishing what nobody else was able to do. Terms like, JC has restored hope, the boys in blue have done it, and, winning Champs and Manning Cup are nothing when you can save the nation from Ruel.

There is a saying that a butterfly flapping its wings can set off a series of events that lead to a tornado. That saying, “the butterfly effect”, relates to how seemingly insignificant early events can be magnified and multiplied in complex systems and result in monumental impacts as time goes by. To understand the relevance, let us explore the Ruel Reid origin story.

In the late ’90s, Ruel returned to teach economics at his alma mater, Munro College. Although he had distinguished himself as a student, he found he commanded little respect as a Master. Determined to self-actualise, he took up the vacant post as coach for the School Challenge Quiz team, although he was clearly out of his depth. He was fortunate that he had a ‘ready-made’ team in his first year that, essentially on their own, advanced to the semi-final round. The unfortunate reality was that the boys knew that his contribution was limited and treated him likewise. He got less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. He heard them say, “Ruel sounds intelligent until you move past the sounds and listen to the actual words.”

Reid’s national profile leaped when the inaugural Tourism Quiz Competition was won by the reserve team. The team was captained by Sean Parkinson, who, with fellow newbie and accomplice, one Alfred Dawes, took over the practice sessions entirely, starting and leaving as they pleased. When they became the senior team, they abandoned team practices with him altogether and somehow convinced the diminutive-but-fierce librarian, Judy Harle, to let them have the library keys at night.


Reid was openly mocked at Munro by his wards in Dickenson House and the quiz team. However, fortune would soon smile on him. The triumphs of the quiz team, although succumbing to the will of the venerable Glen Archer in the finals, propelled his reputation outside of the hallowed halls of Munro. Subsequent successes in the following years created a platform that he would use on his way to becoming president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, senator, and later minister of education. The tsunami at the Ministry of Education that was Ruel Reid had its epicentre in these seemingly benign events at Munro, far away in the hills of Malvern.

As we feel partially responsible for this disaster, the Old Boys of that era stand ready to answer the call of the boys in blue, should they choose to engage Reid on their battleground. We are armed with stories of ashy elbows, trigger words and suspicious charges at a Nassau hotel during a prize trip. Let him return to JC and sound the horn of Gondor! The Munronians stand ready to help save Jamaica from our Frankenstein monster.

Dr Alfred Dawes is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, CEO of Windsor Wellness Centre, and medical spokesman for Lifespan Spring Water. Follow him on Twitter @dr_aldawes. Send feedback to and